Phoenix adds thousands of jobs since pre-recession peaks

The greater Phoenix metropolitan area has officially eclipsed its pre-recession job peaks in almost every industry, according to reports by the city. 

Notably, the city has acquired significant gains in advanced and growing industries such as biosciences, health care, and manufacturing – a sign that the economy is stable and able to withstand the effects of a potential recession.  

According to City of Phoenix communications manager Eric J. Toll, the city’s health care and bioscience sectors peaked before the recession with 181,500 jobs. Presently, the Phoenix economy has 278,000 jobs in the same industry. In fact, year-over-year, the Phoenix metro lost just over 5,000 jobs, but the health care industry alone gained over 11,000 jobs.  

The manufacturing industry has also experienced massive jumps in its workforce. Last month, Phoenix manufacturing experienced its 27th consecutive month of employment gains. In the past twelve months, the sector’s workforce has increased by over six percent.

Since 2015, Arizona added 300,000 jobs to its economy. This includes a 9.2 percent year-over-year increase last month, according to the most recent LinkedIn Workforce Report.  

The growth of employment in these more advanced and stable industries signals future consistency for the Phoenix economy. Instead of growing only in pre-recession industries like real estate, construction, and retail, Phoenix is fleshing out its more progressive sectors, which will have stronger staying power.

“Before the recession, 55 percent of the jobs in the metro were in real estate, construction, and retail. Phoenix traditionally came out of recessions by building — you know, people in the midwest would go, ‘I’m sick of these recessions — I’m bailing out. Let’s sell the house, let’s go to Arizona,’” Toll explains. “We would start getting an influx in population at the end of recession across the country — people were buying houses and the construction industry would come back… Before the recession, in June 2007, we had 174,200 people working in construction, and today 137,200. We didn’t even come back to equal what was done in construction, yet every other job sector except construction and real estate have come back.”

Over 60 percent of jobs in the valley are in what are called “advanced” industries, according to Toll. Jobs in biosciences, health care, and other scientific fields have been steadily climbing since the end of the recession, which is much more promising for the city’s economy than areas like construction and retail, for example.

Phoenix currently ranks as the third-fastest growing economy in the nation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. The city’s Gross Domestic Product grew at 4.3 percent, outpacing the national average by over an entire percentage point. 

“The advanced industries are less volatile if there’s a recession, in theory,” Toll said. “We’ve been gaining jobs in really key areas — plus, those [jobs] tend to pay more and have benefits and things like that. That’s kind of the story, is we keep building our strengths in those areas… We’re adding jobs in all the right places.”

Ben Norman

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